The research is one in a string of studies that suggest some time spent getting in tune with the flow of one’s breathing can complement a regimen of pills, diet, and exercise. Meditation is being prescribed for stress, anxiety, infertility, skin diseases, and other ailments. Many medical professionals in the West remain skeptical or are against the use of meditation for therapy. But some are beginning to endorse its benefits, said neuroscientist Sara Lazar, who leads the research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “Our hope is that by providing concrete evidence of [meditation’s] benefits, more people will at least try it and see if it is beneficial for them,” she said in an email interview. Lazar presented a paper on the research during a visit of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last November in Washington, D.C.
The Dalai Lama was at the neuroscience meeting to give a talk on the potential for mingling neuroscience with the Buddhist tradition of meditation (map: “Buddhism’s Path to Going Global”).